By Nantoo Banerjee
Barely hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaj Sharif harped before the world audience on its over-six-decade-old position, long discarded by India as ‘unacceptable’ and held ‘impractical’ by most nations deeply interested in peace in the region, that Kashmiris be allowed the right to ‘self-determination’ to decide whether or not to remain part of India, visiting Indian private channels were rushing to Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz for so-called “exclusive” by-turn interviews to help the beleaguered neighbour to put forward another round of interpretation of Sharif’s uncalled for vitriolic against India’s gesture. For Pakistan, it must have been, once again, a very satisfying on the diplomatic front to verbally attack India on the world mat and, then, apply balm on hurt Indian sentiment by using its ever-so gullibly gratuitous media for Indian audience.
Thanks to Indian media’s inexplicable obsession with Pakistan, the latter has repeatedly played the game in the last 13 years since, in 2001, former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf misused his official invitation from the then India’s prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the diplomatic protocol sending out midnight invitations to Delhi media editors for a breakfast press meet at Agra that put India’s clueless external affairs ministry to shame and embarrassment. Even last year, around the same time and in the same fashion, Indian media – then part of former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s press entourage – had gone to meet Sharif and his team for “exclusive” interviews and press conference to air their viewpoints on the resolution of the belligerent situation across the LoC in Kashmir, after Pakistan army sent the beheaded body of an Indian soldier trapped in the border battle in an exhibition of inhuman brutality which ISIS is now practicing in Iraq. The free Indian media brief by Pakistan, post the Singh-Sharif meet in New York, prompted India’s then national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon call,as an afterthought, another press meet to give the ‘right version’ of the discussion between the two prime ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA meet.
Pakistan has always exploited Indian media’s obsession with the country’s power politics to its advantage. Some of the Indian media persons have been stooping so disgracefully low to please the Pakistan authorities by draping in favourite Pakistani colours to convey, presumably falsely, their thought alignment with the Pakistani establishment. With ever so eager Indian media eyes and ears on its side, Pakistan beats its size and threat capability, compared to India’s more powerful neighbours such as China and strategically placed ones like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, to occupy Indian mind-space and take full psychological advantage of it. Logically, India median should try to get closer to the authorities of China, which poses by far the biggest threat as well as opportunity to India. While the local media showed much less excitement around the positives of Chinese President Xi Jinpin’s recent visit of the country, focusing more on the LAC build up and border ‘violation’ by Chinamen, little do those media persons or their employers care for reporting Bangladesh which is willing to co-operate with India in the latter’s fight against ISI-supported extremist and Jihadist elements using Bangladesh as their ‘safe’ lodge to launch attack on India. Not many media persons, sent to cover Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit at private cost, considered the Indian PM’s meeting with Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina beyond a ‘photo op’. There are major and crucial diplomatic issues, including economic cooperation, pending for bi-lateral solution by the two neighbours.
On record, Nawaj Sharif, who just managed to survive a possible military-cleric-PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf of former cricketer Imran Khan) coup against his democratically elected government, used the global platform of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to rake up the Kashmir issue blaming India for “another missed opportunity” to address outstanding issues by cancelling the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries. He took the dig at India asserting that a “veil” cannot be drawn over the “core” issue of Kashmir and said Pakistan is ready to work for resolution of this problem through negotiations. “Our support and advocacy of the right to self- determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is our historic commitment and a duty, as a party to the Kashmir dispute,” he said while addressing the annual UNGA session. As to further needle India, Sharif reminded all that more than six decades ago, the UN had passed resolutions to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir are still waiting for the fulfillment of that promise,” he said without explaining why he missed ‘this very important point’ in his last year’s UNGA speech.”Many generations of Kashmiris have lived their lives under occupation, accompanied by violence and abuse of their fundamental rights. Kashmiri women, in particular, have undergone immense suffering and humiliation,” he added.
Incidentally, India had called off the Foreign Secretary-level talks last August after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi, ignoring India’s warning not to meet the separatist leaders. The tension and a war-like situation was built up by Pakistan along LoC as Imran Khan’s march to Pakistan parliament progressed in August-September. Sharif had visited New Delhi in May, at PM Modi’s invitation to attend his swearing-in, and never mentioned ‘plebiscite’ or about the ‘core issue’ during their separate meeting next day after the swearing-in. He told the UNGA gathering that the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved. This is the responsibility of the international community. We cannot draw a veil on the issue of Kashmir, until it is addressed in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.” After Sharif blew hot before the global audience at the UNGA meet, it was turn of Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz to blow cold for India’s home consumption through its gullible media regretting the meeting of Pakistan High Commissioner in Delhi with the Hurriyat leaders ahead of India-Pak Secretary level talks in August.
Indian private TV channels went gaga with ‘breaking news’ from New York with Aziz saying that “the timing of the meeting between Pakistan High Commissioner to India and the Hurriyat leaders was not right and it could have been avoided. The newly-elected leaders of both the countries missed an opportunity of starting a dialogue,” though he insisted that Pakistan can’t ignore Hurriyat. Aziz paid a left handed compliment to Mr. Modi saying “what I find very positive is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at UNGA in which he said I want to improve relations with our neighbours including Pakistan.” Indian media persons were soft on the question of Sharif’s U-turn on Kashmir and how safe is his government who looked so fragile in the face the Parliament march by the Khan-Canadian cleric combine and the risk involved to his survival in case he responds positively to Mr. Modi’s invite to close the Kashmir chapter, demolish ISI-backed terrorist incubation centres and to move on to address the peace and economic concerns of the people of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir. (IPA Service)